The History of Medicine: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)
by W.F. Bynum
Against the backdrop of unprecedented concern for the future of health care, this Very Short Introduction surveys the history of medicine from classical times, through the scholastic medieval tradition and the Enlightenment to the present day. Taking a thematic rather than strictly chronological approach, W.F. Bynum, explores the key turning points in the history of Wester...more
Paperback, 169 pages
Published August 24th 2008 by Oxford University Press, USA
(first published July 31st 2008)
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Medicine is one of those things that most of us give little thought until we get sick. And then we only think of it in terms of practical considerations - which doctor to go to, how to deal with the medical condition that we have. However, as both a practical and intellectual discipline medicine has a very long tradition. The western medicine, which is the main subject of this very short introduction, is usually considered to begin with Hippocrates. Hippocrates, however, was not a single individ...more
I fully expected this book to be dull and encyclopedic, just another addition to a series of books published by Very Short Introductions. Instead, I found a dutifully researched, well-written and passionate account of some of the biggest names in medical history. Science and medical authors sometimes get bogged down in the objects that they're focusing on, but Bynum communicates a story of medicine that is entirely social, built by personalities who mostly believed in their own egos over the hea...more
This book was the recommended course textbook for the University of Oxford’s “History of Medicine” introductory program. Don’t be fooled by its tiny size – It’s jam-packed full of well-researched information pertaining to the history of Western medicine, beginning with the ancient Greeks of the fifth century BCE and continuing up to the present day. Bynum methodically breaks down the chronology by way of examining five kinds of medicine: Bedside, Library, Hospital Community and Laboratory, and h...more
Relative to other pieces of writing on medical history, this falls short. Though I suppose the idea of summarizing medical history into a very short book was not to give an eloquent retelling of this history, but to give an expansive overview. In that, it succeeded. In capturing my attention, it did not.